Fresh – Out Of Borstal – RCA Records 1970

Intro – Borstal Theme / Shifting The Blame / Take What You Want / Back To My Home / Fighting, Spitting, Kicking / Kit And Run / Long Long While

See You Later / The Boys Lazed On The Verandah / You Made Me What I Am / Borstal Theme / Life Is What You Make It

One oddity from my collection is the band Fresh, a ‘boy band’ constructed by Simon Napier-Bell. Simon Napier-Bell had been a manager for The Yardbirds way back in the mid 1960’s, he went onto manage an early Marc Bolan outfit called Johns Children. He also did the music for the 1968 film ‘Here We Go Around The Mulberry Bush’ and as Nuzz and myself know well, was fittingly set and filmed in glamorous 1960’s Stevenage New Town.

One day in 1968 Kit Lambert, then manager of The Who told Simon Napier-Bell that he was getting together a concept album together, with Townsend from The Who, about a blind pinball player Tommy. Enthused by this idea, Simon Napier-Bell went onto create a street level concept album, set around a juvenile prison. The results are what you hear on this LP released in 1970 on RCA Records. A great mixture of rhythm and blues in the mould of late 1960’s The Small Faces and The Rolling Stones.

Aimed at the 1970 popular skinhead, suedehead boot-boy scene, Slade, Mott The Hoople fans, football hooli’s, and any schoolboy that had the Richard Allen NEMS ‘Skinhead’ series of books, this LP sold quite well, and included songs by Mick Jagger, who in 1970 after the death of Brian Jones was on the top of his game with The Rolling Stones. A great track ‘Borstal Theme’ on the second side, has a snotty bonehead talking about his lot, while a cymbal or drum roll ‘replies’. The track then goes into one of those great psyche-hammond workouts mixed up with horns. A ‘Blow Up’ for sure!

Fresh became the group Glencoe after this release. Simon Napier-Bell went onto manage various other bands including Japan, and his biggest selling band, Wham in the 1980’s! He also completed an absolutely great autobiography, with anecdotes and views of the music industry from the 1950’s to the mid 1980’s specifically involving the drug culture amongst the industry. The book is called ‘Black Vinyl, White Powder’. Go and grab a copy.  

29 comments
  1. Lyle
    Lyle
    April 29, 2008 at 1:30 am

    Wow. Been looking for this for decades. I’m one of the few in the States who had this lp. Thanks!

  2. Willy
    Willy
    May 5, 2008 at 10:35 am

    Great!
    There actually were quite a few in the states who had this. The record was in bargain bins for years. I think I bought a copy for 50 cents.

    My first college roommate introduced me to this and “fresh today” in 1978. Would like to find that one sometime.

  3. Valery
    Valery
    June 1, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    Much more than GREAT!!!!!!!

    Have been looking for it since 1975!!!!!!

    THANKS REALLY A LOT!!!!!!

  4. Paul
    Paul
    August 28, 2008 at 12:39 am

    i had owned a cassette of Fresh. they popped into my head again , as i liked the tune ‘see you later’. i am surprised to see them again. really good finding them on line.

  5. Steve
    Steve
    August 29, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    Wow! Hard to believe. Was just doing a post for a message board about youngsters showing an ever-expanding interest in the 60s & 70s & this LP suddenly came to mind. Got it cheap off a UK Woollies bargain rack when it first appeared. Still have it after limited play!

  6. Paul Francis
    Paul Francis
    September 10, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    Great to see the comments, My father is ‘Kevin Francis’, I remember playing this album over and over thinking ‘thats my dad!’. He (Kevin) never really thought a lot of the material used on the album, and often said that the real band ‘Fresh’ was a more ‘Hendrix’ and ‘Cream’ orientated, and far from the commercialised material found here……I still think its a great album, even if he does’nt!

  7. Marc Nathan
    Marc Nathan
    November 10, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    I too had this album when it came out… and all I really remembered was the line “… and there’s a million different theories…” and so when I grabbed this file and heard it in the first minute or so, I couldn’t help but be overjoyed.

    Thanks for the memories.

    Now all I need is that SKY album that came out right around the same time (same label, RCA US) with the song “How’s That Treatin’ Your Mouth Babe?” — any suggestions?

  8. Tony
    Tony
    December 3, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    What can I say… “FRESH OUT OF BORSTAL”….a relic from the old days…and this is a wonderful blog…the best I’ve been to yet. Just check out all the wonderful stuff from past months…this guy is GREAT!!!!!!! Just try to find info like this anywhere else…..you won’t find it!!!!! All of these punk cassettes, with the artwork (see the archives!!!!!). Simply amazing. I go to the archives here whenever I want to be entertained and informed. sincerely, Tony (from the USA)

  9. Ian S
    Ian S
    December 3, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    Seems like a template for Sham 69 and their ‘That’s Life’ album in particular.

    Jonathan King knew Jimmy Pursey from the ‘Walton Hop’ nights at Eel Pie Island, and also must have known about Napier-Bell’s boy band ‘Fresh’.

  10. Bob Gorman
    Bob Gorman
    July 27, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    Hi everybody, and thanks for the comments. I was the guitarist with FRESH. More of a family than a band, but nevertheless we played from the heart. The music is not how we really have shown ourselves. We did not become GLENCOE!! We split just after FRESH TODAY. Very sad!! Our developement was rudely interupted by these albums, and did not represent our style or music. I am very happy that some people had pleasure from the albums. Thats a fact!!!! Bob Gorman

  11. Jim Morrow
    Jim Morrow
    August 10, 2009 at 1:39 am

    Bought this in 1970 after hearing “Yours” by Forever More (highly recommended if you find it) which was also arranged and produced by Simon Napier-Bell. Hey Marc N.-I feel your pain. I’ve been looking for that Sky album too. I used to have it, but for some stupid reason it’s gone now. If I could have that and Ron Nagle “Bad Rice” I could die a happy man. Bob G.-I think somebody is confusing Fresh with Forever More as one of their guys (drummer Stuart Francis) was in Glencoe. Sorry you got the all too typical record industry treatment, but I still like both albums for what they are. Thanks for letting us hear from you. Lastly, thanks for this great, great blog!

  12. Bob Gorman
    Bob Gorman
    August 29, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    I remember Forever More as being another band in our stable with S Napier Bell, who, incidently, went on to manage Wham, and finally sold George Michael to Sony! Forever More did do some albums, but I never got to hear them. How can I get a copy, anyone know? If I am not mistaken, they were previously called Glass Menagerie. It is a good Blog isnt it!

  13. phil kean, Toronto,-ex Coventry
    phil kean, Toronto,-ex Coventry
    August 31, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    I found this album in a variety store in Toronto about 1972? Paid $1.99..
    Probably my best vinyl investment ever..Have shared it with many musician friends over the years and I still listen to it often, scratches and all!
    I just got some software that will allow me to make a c.d from vinyl so now I’m going to try to copy it Great blog!

  14. Valery from Russia/Sweden
    Valery from Russia/Sweden
    January 2, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    Answer to Bob

    Thank You very much for the comments. Just today in the morning I talked to an old friend of mine and told him I had the record. He asked me to play it just to sing “I did it and now I must pay…” through the mobile. We are not especially sentimental and have never been anybody`s fans but this is not just a record – this is A WHOLE LIFE MEMORY. And for me it doesn´t matter what you wanted to do, but what you DID! I have even “Fresh Today” and it is very good but THIS ONE!!!.. Greetings from Soviet Union 1972…

  15. Kevin Francis
    Kevin Francis
    March 31, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    Hi all, after recording the album “Fresh out of Borstal” we appeared on a week long news documentry for London Thames Television regarding Borstals in the UK, where by we sang tracks from the album including “Shift the Blame”, we were then given a chance later to fly to Bremen TV Studios in Germany to appear and perform some more of the tracks, from 1970 – 1973 it was a very busy time for the band, working on the university circuit in the UK, appearing in Paris and residences in Nice (France) The Miami hotel Teran (Persia) and the famous Piper club in Rome supporting top name acts such as Free, Traffic, The Move, The Searchers, Yes, Amen Corner to name a few before disbanding, great blog!

  16. barry young
    barry young
    April 1, 2010 at 5:25 am

    “life is what you make it to be. you say you’re lonely, don’t blame it on me.”
    i have had this album permanently imprinted on my psyche and stored in my interior sound vault for 40 effing years. and that’s how long it’s been since my last listen.
    this concept album was brilliant in arrangement, melody and emotion. it helped me be as pissed off as i needed to be at twenty when i was mystified how life could turn out to be so raw and unkind; especially when the final curtain came down on the 60’s (altamont/manson/saigon)
    raunchy homo-erotic pre-punk punk.
    “and the boys lazed, on the veranda, watched by lustful eyes” referred to pedo-wardens that brought swishy juvies home for fun and game extrmural activities
    fucking well ahead of its time. same period as another cultural paragon- the film PERFORMANCE by nicholas roeg w edward fox and borstal contributor mick jaggeronivich.

  17. barry young
    barry young
    April 1, 2010 at 5:39 am

    god bless you kevin. i will come to the uk and film (not videotape) you whenever u want to recollect those classic days.
    and i ate did SO much opium/hash at the miami hotel tehran that i blacked out for three days and woke up at the afghan border where the commandant colonel ahmed (in hand-me-down chi-com uniform) offered us the choice of ‘internment’ or the opp. to purchase bricks of hash from his own stash. [we chose the latter]
    this is after travelling w joni mitchell on crete (and psychotic carey from the eponymous song on her album BLUE), avoiding the Midnite Express experience by a hair’s breadth in istanbul and many many many other indescribable adventures.
    please. were those the days or effing what?

  18. Phil Rawlinson
    Phil Rawlinson
    October 24, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    I always wondered if I’d find this again. My dad ( Yes, my dad !! ) bought this in Rumbelows in Epsom way back. He used to manage the Ebbisham Halls where all the great bands of the day played. Saw them all. Stones were local ( Epsom and Sutton area ) Jimmy Page played lead for Nero and the Gladiators ( attended Epsom School of Art ).
    I absolutely loved this album. Knew loads of kids from Beechholme ( local homes for kids from broken homes ).I’m listening to it now, and I remember that at least one track was written by Jagger / Richards. So pleased to find it. Congrats and thanks to whoever posted this. Loved it then, I’m on side 2 now, and still love it. Remembering how I felt then. Ooh, the shivers.

  19. Bob Gorman
    Bob Gorman
    March 14, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Good stuff…….nice to read positive stuff about the albums……people are happy…great!! If anybody is interested in what I do now….go to Bob Gorman and Friends on Facebook. Bob, (guitarist for Fresh)

  20. Vince Phillips
    Vince Phillips
    January 27, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    When I was working at my college (VCU) progressive radio station, one of the other jocks put on what I thought was a new, or unknown, Rolling Stones single. It was “See You Later”, the leadoff tune on the album Fresh Out of Borstal. I had to get myself a copy!

  21. Adam Rebelius
    Adam Rebelius
    March 15, 2012 at 7:07 am

    The bad news is the link provided for the MP3 down load is missing a few tracks and one track is, sadly cut in half. (“Kit and Run” is cut off after the first verse, and the following songs did not make it onto the MP3 download: Long, Long While, Borstal Theme, Life Is What You Make of it.) I can’t really complain since a person gets what they pay for.

    That being said, this album has not only stood the test of time, it was ahead of it’s time. The song, “Shifting the Blame” could have easily appeared on “All Skrewed Up” by Skrewdriver in 1977. Don’t believe me? Listen to the vocal stylings of the chorus, and compare it with an early Skrewdriver song. (And DON’T WORRY all you S.H.A.R.P./R.A.S.H. skins! There’s NOTHING racist about the song at all. I am only referring to the vocal stylings and musical arrangements alone) I own an original copy of the album. My mother, for some reason actually bought a copy when it came out. (To this day I don’t know why, or if she even ever listened to it.) Needless to say, she passed it down to me. In many ways it is a “Spirit of 69” skinhead album. The theme of the lyrics are certainly about committing crimes as a youth, and doing time. (What would you expect from an album called, “Fresh Out Of Borstal” w/ three juvies in prison blues in front of one of Her Majesty’s Juvenile Centre of Corrections?) The music itself is more of a bouncy R&B style than anything. As you can tell by the picture of the back cover, Mick Jagger and Kieth Richards had some involvement in this album, and I believe they even wrote some songs for it. (“Back To My Home” most certainly sounds like something old Kieth would have penned. it’s certainly his style of blues playing and preference) It has been speculated on certain blog sites that the album was a concept album by certain studio musicians to cash in on the skinhead phenomenon of the day, and that the people involved may not have ever spent any time in a correctional facility. Considering the names listed on the back of the record jacket, that would not surprise me. (Mick Jagger, Kieth Richards, Simon Napier-Bell) I also have a concert bill from 1971 from New York City, (I can’t remember the venue or the bands at the moment) which contained an advert for the album. In the U.S. the album was targeted, for some reason towards the gay community. The ad features a “Prison Bitch’ looking over his shoulder seductively, as if to say, “I’ll be your girlfriend if you protect me, big boy”. The slogan was “It’s not an album, it’s a sentence.” Weather the sentiments expressed on the album are genuine or a farce, I feel it is a very important album to have in one’s collection, especially for people who are interested in British working class youth culture. One can certainly here where a lot of today’s “Oi!” bands got their ideas from, especially Sham 69, Angelic Upstarts, and Skrewdriver as I mentioned earlier. Although incomplete at this time, I would highly recommend downloading the two MP3s in the link provided here, and if you can actually find a copy of this album, do yourself a favor and buy it.

  22. Penguin
    Penguin • Post Author •
    March 18, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    Hi Adam, thanks for the great comment here on KYPP. I tried the downloads attached to the post above and they both seem fine. The LP is actually very short and the download is taken directly off my copy of the vinyl and transferred to mp3. I am not sure if there was a mediafire glitch on the day you tried to download, but on my downloads both links came thorough at approx 16 / 17 minutes each side, which is the length of both sides of the actual LP. So all those tracks you listed should not have been omitted or shortened. Thanks again for the insightful comment.

  23. Adam Rebelius
    Adam Rebelius
    March 24, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Hey, Penguin. As of this writing I am having trouble downloading the second MP3, but have already down loaded the first one. I’ll listen to it in a while, and let you know if it’s complete or not. The Business are passing through Chicago tomorrow, and I’d like to get a copy to Micky Fitz. Glad you appreciated the comments. I have located the concert bill I spoke about in my earlier posting. It was a gig for Traffic w/Mott the Hoople, and Fairport Convention as the opening acts at The Fillmore East on June 10-11 1970. For those who are interested, here is the complete text o the record advertisement: “You can get anything in Borstal… if you bend for it.” Not even Brendan Behan wrote about Borstal the way these Borstal Boys do. Fresh. A new group with a new album. All about love in Borstal-England’s reformatory system. “Fresh Out of Borstal” introduces homosexuality-in-reform-school rock. It’s an album for mature audiences. It says things you’ve never heard on an album before. (If you’re from Omaha, it says things you’ve probably never heard anywhere before.) You don’t listen to “Fresh Out of Borstal”. You face it. Like an indictment. “Fresh Out of Borstal” Other than the song, “Boys on the Veranda” and possibly, “See You Later”, I really didn’t hear too many songs or lyrics about prison homosexuality. The song, “See You Later” also sounds like a Jagger/Richards composition that easily could’ve been on Exile on Main Street. In spite of some of the mistakes I made earlier, I still stand by my previous post. Anyway, I’m going to try to down load side two again. Wish me luck, and once again, I’ll let you know how it all came out. On a side note, do you or any of the readers out there know anything about the follow up album, “Fresh Today”? (And where one might possibly find a down load for that?)

  24. Adam Rebelius
    Adam Rebelius
    March 24, 2012 at 11:52 am

    UPDATE: My computer is acting up on me. I wasn’t able to download the 2nd MP3, so I went to my mother’s computer, downloaded it successfully from there, and e-mailed it to myself. Once again, thank you for sharing this piece of nearly forgotten British music history with the rest of the world. Now if anybody can help me locate a download of Fresh Today, I will be forever in their debt. (And yes, both MP3s came out complete, in case you’re wondering)

  25. Penguin
    Penguin • Post Author •
    March 27, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    Downloads behaving themselves is nice to read Adam. Cheers. And for the extra infomation supplied. The Business? Glad to see they are still active. I posted the first single on KYPP a few years back; https://killyourpetpuppy.co.uk/news/?p=1083 Enjoy.

  26. antoine
    antoine
    July 30, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Reminds me of Garrie Lammin’s Cocksparrer or neo Stonesy outfit the Little Roosters!

    If ya get the chance, go see the Berdmondsey Joyriders, his new band, street rock with an edge guaranteed to make ya sweat…

  27. Randy
    Randy
    February 24, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    My sister in law gave me a copy of “Fresh out of Borstal” in 1973, when I was myself fresh out of borstal, I thought that she was taking the piss, but after playing the record I fell in love with it, it was and still is an unusual and gritty mix of tracks which has stood the test of time, despite borstal being a thing of the past. I still have the LP but unfortunately nothing to play it on.

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